Helicopters ‘violate’ norms in Kedarnath: Report
A total of eight companies violated the NGT directions, affecting the wildlife with the high noise pollution. High noise levels are likely to increase stress levels in animals, disturb their hormonal balance and lead them to shift from the forest zone, notes study.Updated: Oct 30, 2018 15:36 IST
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Five years after the then divisional forest officer (DFO) raised an alarm about choppers ferrying pilgrims in Kedarnath were flouting aviation norms, a similar report has been sent to the Forest and Wildlife department by the current DFO in October.
Amit Kanwar, DFO Kedarnath wildlife division sent a report to the department earlier this month which stated that choppers were flying below the permissible height of 600 metres (2000 ft) while flying above the sensitive Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary.
The DFO along with his team had set up two monitoring stations at Bhimbali and Lincholi and collected data of the level at which the choppers were flying on a random basis from April, 2018 to June 2018. The report states that as per norms set by National Green Tribunal (NGT), helicopter companies are required to send altimeter data to DFO Kedarnath bi-weekly but the data was not sent regularly and some companies did not send the data at all.
A total of eight companies violated the NGT directions, affecting the wildlife with the high noise pollution. High noise levels are likely to increase stress levels in animals, disturb their hormonal balance and lead them to shift from the forest zone, as noted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in a detailed study in 2016- 2017. The report sent by DFO Kedarnath has now been sent to the state government by the forest and wildlife department. “The Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority (UCADA) only mentions the norms that the helicopters companies must follow, but no serious monitoring has been done by them,” said Kanwar.
R Rajesh Kumar, additional secretary of UCADA said, “We have not received any report of chopper companies violating the regulations. However, companies cannot fudge the data because the noise level and height is measured in devices installed in the choppers.” He added that action will be taken against companies if any violation is found.
Aryan Aviation, one of the companies listed by DFO Kedarnath as a violator, dismissed the allegations said that none of their pilots flew below the mentioned height. “We send reports to the government. The DFO has filed the report based on his findings,” said Vikas Tomar, assistant manager operations of Aryan Aviation. No response was received from Himalayan Heli, another ‘violator’, as per Kanwar, despite attempts to reach them. Chopper companies will continue to provide services for another week till the shrine closes for the winter.
First Published: Oct 30, 2018 00:02 IST